A Conversation With RM and Pharrell Williams
With every new month comes new content for ARMY to devour, and they were not disappointed this time either. On November 1, Rolling Stone dropped their latest installation of “Musicians on Musicians,” a segment in which two artists sit down and talk about their inspirations from the world around them, how they use that inspiration when it comes to creating music, and how they balance life inside and outside the studio. This month’s artists were revealed to be RM and award-winning musician and creative entrepreneur Pharrell Williams. Their dialogue gave us a look inside Pharrell Williams’ creative process through RM’s curious eyes as well as Williams’ insight into RM as the leader of one of the biggest global sensations in history.
The discussion began with Williams opening up about solo work and the complications he faces when writing for himself versus for and with other people. RM agreed and added that writing for himself includes a difficult self-reflection in order to convey the message he wants to send out. They continued with Williams delving into his creative process for producing a track for other musicians, in which RM eventually asked a question that took the veteran artist back as “no one has asked [him] that before”, the question being how Williams positions himself when he must act as a vocal stand-in for someone else. Williams explained that his best work comes when he creates the track with the knowledge that his demo may not be in the end result. In that instant, he is able to channel himself in the way needed to perform at his maximum ability.
Switching topics, RM then asked Williams if the veteran musician remembered their first encounter during the 2018 Billboard Music Awards to which he answered yes. Williams now flipped the conversation to praise RM and BTS for their “energy and what [they] represent” as part of the Asian community. He examined the energy that BTS and ARMY – as well as other artists and their respective fanbases – have between each other, specifically during concerts, and asked RM how he deals with being onstage. RM began with reminiscing on his first stage as an underground rapper in which he realized, after bumbling through his performance, that his love was for producing the music more so than performing the music. Fast forward to BTS’s recenr tour in Las Vegas, where they had to perform the same show four times in a row. RM discussed that the pressure to perform well for ARMYs who had come from around the world just to see the band once was overwhelming. But it wasn’t until he heard the crowd responding to the initial performance that he put on a different persona trying to match the energy he receives. RM said he equates that exchange to real love, which happens “when we give to somebody, not take away.”
RM continued the interview asking Williams how he defined himself beyond his name brand. Williams went on to express how music is the “center of his universe” and has opened so many doors and opportunities to him. It wasn’t until later that he questioned his purpose in creating music that didn’t satisfy him the way he wanted; because of that he was able to identify with the group’s predicament of finding their individual identities after being part of a group for so long. RM then revealed his impending album release and his feelings on the works in progress. He considered this album his “official first album” that he could put his all into. This conversation then progressed into RM reflecting on BTS’ positions as diplomats and social figures of K-pop. He became confused with how they ended up at this point while emphasizing that he was only a rapper from a city in Korea and in the end questioned his own purpose in creating music. Williams pointed out to RM that being in a group, working solo, and collaborating with others allows him to come back to each position with a new perspective and have fresh ideas.
This interview was conducted in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, a setting that was familiar to RM and Williams as both are connoisseurs of art. It concluded with the two musicians holding a vibrant photoshoot in the art installation Cromosaturación by Carlos Cruz-Diez, some of which was used as promotion on social media as well as Rolling Stone’s November 2022 issue. This dialogue provided a great insight into RM’s reflection on many events from the past 10 years of his career, and will likely be highlighted again in his album.
Written by: Rei
Edited by: LJ
Designed by: ThornToHisRose
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